The still-in-progress WWE SmackDown! vs RAW 2007 was on display behind closed doors at E3, and GamesRadar got a firsthand look at the shiny new Xbox 360 version on Friday. What's more, we had a chance to step into Kurt Angle's boots and trade a few backhand slaps with (another journalist playing as) John Cena, and the game looks to be filling out nicely so far.
Admittedly, the 360's visuals didn't seem a huge improvement over the already-impressive PS2 SmackDown! vs RAW 2006, at least not at this early stage. Instead, the new game simply does more, with realistic-looking audience members and full arenas that you can fight in and use to humiliate your opponent.
Actually fighting in the crowd is now possible, and you can even set up some extreme-looking stunts - like a body slam off a 20-foot-tall scaffold - that would leave real wrestlers with broken bones. It looks like that "Stacy Kiebler gives us a massage after a tough match" mini-game we request every year is still missing, though.
Some of the game's other innovations gave us a little trouble, unfortunately. While SmackDown! vs RAW 2007 controls a lot like the last game, all grappling was done with the right analog stick - flicking it in different directions now yields different types of throws, holds and pins.
It's easy to see that, with practice, the new system will give players a lot more control, but it was a little confusing during the short time we spent with it. In any case, we've been assured the system was still early, and will be much more refined the next time we see it.
Then there's the "chain reversal" system. For the uninitiated, a lot of the strategy in WWE games revolves around "reversing" your opponent's moves by blocking or breaking free and turning the attack around on them.
Thanks to the new system, though, they can reverse your reversal, and you can reverse theirs, until one wrestler finally gains the upper hand. We had a hard time getting the timing down to do this right, but it does make for a much more realistic experience.